The biggest news this morning in Green:
Is solar going down? — One venture capitalist is calling this the “sunset of solar venture capital.” Noting analysts’ bearishness on solar going into 2011, the Motley Fool’s Travis Hoium bets on First Solar, but says Trina Solar and Yingli Solar also have a shot at making inroads into the residential and commercial market where SunPower reigns supreme. Jigar Shah at Cleantech Blog picks at Fool’s metric of cost per watt, saying widening efficiency gaps have rendered those numbers moot. “In any case, solar is coming down in cost and the race is fun to watch.”
U.S. has 2M smart meters at work — U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced yesterday that two million smart grid meters have been installed in the country as a result of funding from the Recovery Act. The release cites a study by the Electric Power Research Institute that estimates that the implementation of smart grid technologies could reduce electricity use by more than 4 percent annually by 2030 or $20.4 billion.
New York City gets eco-friendly buses — On top of the nation’s first mass-produced all-electric car, the Nissan Leaf, opening up the order books yesterday (with an initial release of just 200 cars), emissions-friendly buses are hitting the streets, too. New Flyer of America landed a $216 million contract to supply the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority with up to 475 buses powered by compressed natural gas. And in California, Proterra sold three electric buses to a transit agency that will put those on the roads in San Gabriel and Pomona, with the possibility of buying 9 more.
World should have 3.2M plug-in cars by 2015 — Plug-in electric vehicles (hybrids included) will hit the 3.2 million unit mark by 2015, according to Pike Research. Pike’s analysts forecast that China will have the most EVs with 880,000 by 2015, with the U.S. a close second at 841,000 cars sold. The Nissan Leaf fired up the game in the U.S. yesterday by officially opening its order books, though it’ll only release 200 cars this year, to be delivered in December.
Canada builds industrial-scale plant to turn city’s solid waste into fuel — Enerkem Inc., a Montreal-based biofuels company that converts waste to biofuels, has started construction of a municipal plant in Edmonton, Canada. The company says it’s the world’s first industrial-scale biofuels facility to use municipal solid waste as feedstock, and the plant can produce annually 10 million gallons of biofuels. The privately held company’s backers include Braemar Energy Ventures and Waste Management.
More biofuel stations coming to California — Start-up Propel Fuels says it plans to add 75 new biofuel stations in California by the end of 2011, fueled in part by $10.9 million from the government. The company unveiled its latest station in Oakland yesterday. The overall project will cost the company $16 million, which they’ll take partly from the $20 million raised earlier this year, contributed from backers such as Craton Energy Partners and Nth Power.
Google gives out energy-saving advice — Google has added home efficiency tips to PowerMeter, which generates advice based on data collected about people’s energy habits. PowerMeter shows electricity usage information for homes, in some cases partnering with other companies to grab data from smart meters – all with the goal of empowering customers to conserve energy.
Greenpeace tells Facebook to kick the coal habit — Greenpeace asked Facebook to stop using coal at its new data center in Oregon. If Facebook agrees, it could influence other companies to follow suit — and if not, the social networking giant could invite pestering and high-profile stunts from Greenpeace protesters.